Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)



Capital : Khartoum-Omdurman

A'ali en Nil, An Nil en Abyad, An Nil en Azraq, An Nil (Blue Nile), Bahr el Ahmar, Bahr el Ghazal, El Buheirat, El Gezira, El Khartum, Esh Shamaliya, Gharb el Istiwa'iya, Janub Dharfur, Janub Kordofan, Jonglei, Kassala, Sharq el Istiwa'iya, Shamal Darfur, Shamal Kordofan

Size: 967 000 sq m Popn: 26 656 000


This country, the largest in Africa, covers the region known as Nubia and in ancient times it was taken over by the Kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt. The Nubians were converted to Coptic Christianity in the C6th and many became Muslims when the Arabs invaded in the C15th.

In 1820, Egypt took control again and the area was a prime source of slaves during the C19th until it was influenced by British missionaries and administrators. In 1881 a revolt led by Sheik Muhammad Ahmed, who took the religious title of Mahdi, captured Khartoum and had to be put down by an Anglo-Egyptian army under Lord Kitchener from 1896-8. From 1899, it was administered by the British dominated Anglo-Egyptian 'Condominium Administration' but after the Egyptian revolution in 1952 Britain agreed to independence. The Christians in the south wanted to be separate from the north or a federal association with it but were refused and from 1954 Britain and Egypt argued about Sudan's future. An incident just before independence in 1955 when Sudanese troops thought they were being tricked into surrender sparked off 17 years of civil war.

Sudan became an independent republic in 1956 but Ibrahim Abboud overthrew the government in 1958 with a military coup which lasted until civilian rule was resumed in the 'October Revolution' of 1964. The army soon returned to power under Colonel Jafar Mohammed Nimeiri who managed to end the war with the south to which he gave regional autonomy. The Revolutionary Command Council was set up, political parties were banned and the country became known as the Democratic Republic of Sudan, establishing close ties with Egypt. There was an agreement to unify but this was not ratified due to internal opposition and in 1972 a new constitution was adopted with Nimeri as president and the Sudanese Socialist Union the only political party allowed.

North/South unrest continued although Nimeri gave the three southern provinces some autonomy, and he turned to the West and the USA for backing. A national assembly was set up in 1974 and he was re-elected in 1983 but regional problems persisted. He sent in troops against the Sudan People's Liberation Army in the south, alienating the north, and adopted strict Islamic law which annoyed the Christian south

After a general strike and economic problems in 1985, Nimeri was in the US when a threat of army mutiny led to his supporter, General Swar el-Dhahab, taking over. He set up a transitional military council and held elections in 1986 with over 40 parties contesting them. The three most powerful formed a coalition government with Ahmed Ali el-Mirghani of the Democratic Unionist Party as President of the Supreme Council and Sadiq al-Mahdi of the New National Umma Party as Prime Minister. In 1987 mounting inflation, strikes and shortages led to a state of emergency being declared, the government broke up in October and a new coalition was formed. This was split by a peace agreement with John Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Movement in December 1988 and after an attempt to restore Nimeri, it was overthrown in July 1989 by a 15 man revolutionary council led by the devout Muslim Oman Hassan al-Bashir. He was believed to be a political moderate until he indicated Islamic extremist tendencies but announced that his main objective was to end the civil war. In 1991, the country was divided into nine provinces governed under a federal system.

The large Christian minority still wants independence from the Sunni Muslim Arab Northerners. Animist beliefs also exist in the mainly African negro South. Languages include the official Arabic, English (official in the South) and more than 100 others including Sudanic and Darfurian.

Sudanese Names


Ahmad Anai Basel Bashir Dahab Deng
Hassan Ibrahim Jafar Jaja Mahdi Malmoud
Muhammed Rahman Sadiq Umar    


Abok Elham Nyanath 'daughter of a human' Poni Sittina  


Abboud Fung Garang Kayra Keira Kelueljang
Lugor Nimeiri Nuer Robienayai Shol Taha



Dol Mading Manute Monnyak    




Alier Bol Deng Yagoub    

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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